Ethics and Stanford Prison Experiment

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Ethics, Business ethics, Psychology / Pages: 9 (2166 words) / Published: Dec 13th, 2011
Ethics and the Stanford Prison Experiment

In 1971 Philipp Zimbardo carried out one of the most ethically controversial psychological experiment the ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’. Originally he aimed to study how much our behavior is structured by the social role we occupy. Describing the study briefly 24 undergraduates with no criminal and psychological record were chosen for the research to play the roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of Stanford University Psychology Building, equipped by hidden cameras and microphones. As the lead researcher, Zimbardo was observing the events from a different room, giving instructions to the guards. The research was supposed to last about two weeks. However, aggressive and violent behavior quickly appeared on the behalf of the group playing the role of the guards, while prisoners became depressed and passive. Ultimately some of the prisoners were subject to torture. Since the participants assimilated with their role rapidly and provided surprising psychological outcome, Dr Zimbardo shot down the research after 5 days. The experiment meant to demonstrate the power of authority, support of the situational attribution of behavior rather than the dispositional attribution. For forty years it was criticized as well as argued when it came to the relation of ethics and psychology. If it would be carried out today it would fail to meet the Ethical Principals of the Psychologist and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association. This paper will discuss the main unethical elements of the Stanford Prison Experiment, such as the violation of privacy and confidentiality, physical and mental harm during an experiment and the researcher’s involvement of the warden role. ‘Some psychological studies produce very surprising results for the researchers and the participants. Sometimes the results are so striking that they challenge our explanations of human behavior and human



Cited: Brady, F. Neil, & Logsdon, Jeanne M.. (1988). Zimbardo 's 'Standard Prison Experiment ' And The Relevance O. Journal of Business Ethics, 7(9), 703.  Retrieved December 12, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 572750). Zimbardo, P, 1982, ‘Pathology of Imprisonment’. In d Krebs (ed.), Readings in Social Psychology: Contemporary Perspectives, Second Ed. (Harper & Row, New York, NY) p.249-251 Haney, C., Banks, W.C. & Zimbardo, P.G. (1973). A study of prisoners and guards in a simulated prison. Naval Research Review, 30, 4-17. Shaughnessy, J. J., Zechmeister, E. B., & Zechmeister, J. S. (2006). ‘Research Methods’ in Psychology Seventh Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill. ‘Stanford Prison Experiment Still Powerful After All These Years’. Stanford University News Service. August 1.1997. Stanford.California

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Experiment
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Experiment
  • Stanford Prison Experiment